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By Stephen Schmalhofer
Preface by Austin Litke, O.P.
The eleven essays in this volume introduce a host of genuinely delightful people from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. With abundant wit and a discerning eye for detail, Schmalhofer acquaints his reader with such social luminaries as Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop Chanler, novelists Willa Cather, Francis Marion Crawford, and Henry James, artist John La Farge and art collector Egisto Fabbri, as well the irrepressible Father Cyril Sigourney Fay, whose many friends included Pope Benedict XV and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The subjects of these literary portraits are indeed delightful: highly accomplished, cultured, and educated, one and all, they are also representative of a bygone, oft-overlooked age. As in life, when their “presence was effervescence,” even now, on paper, their fellowship remains a source of insightful enchantment.
Stephen Schmalhofer is a graduate of Yale College and a partner at a venture investment firm based in New York City. His writing has appeared at The New Criterion, First Things, The University Bookman, Spectator USA, City Journal, and The New York Post. He writes from Connecticut where he lives with his wife and three daughters.
Austin Litke, O.P., is a Dominican Friar of the Easter Province of Saint Joseph, currently completing doctoral studies in Patristic Theology at the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome.
Reviews for Delightful People
In this delightful collection of essays, Stephen Schmalhofer lives up admirably to Horace’s injunction to delight as well as instruct. Here is the human comedy in all its beguiling eccentricity, served up in prose that is crisp, sharply observed, and deeply humane. God made the world and saw that it was odd. Schmalhofer captures that oddity with zest and understanding. –Roger Kimball, Editor and Publisher, The New Criterion
Beautifully composed, the essays in Delightful People represent appreciations in the fullest sense: portraits of people who matter in part because of their attainments but still more because they are simply so enjoyable. Delightful People reminds us that people can indeed prove, well, delightful—and in this vexed moment what finer gift could Stephen Schmalhofer possibly have offered? –Peter Robinson, former Speechwriter to President Reagan and the Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow at the Hoover Institution
The people described here are made quite more delightful by the author’s instinct for their grace and wit. Of each, Hamlet would say: “What a piece of work!” And the same is true of these gifted essays. –Rev. George William Rutler, author of Cloud of Witnesses: Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive
There are persons—and then there are personalities. Attentive to the religious horizon of history, Stephen Schmalhofer brings alive some of the most interesting characters of the last century. –R. R. Reno, Editor, First Things
Stephen Schmalhofer’s short and amusing essays shed light on a small and colorful group of mostly upperclass Americans, some whom already in their time were representatives of a bygone era. Many of them were cosmopolitan in their way of life and outlook. A common denominator is their Catholicism (usually as converts) or at least an attraction to it, in some cases in combination with an enthusiasm for the art and music of the medieval Church. The web of connections Schmalhofer portrays includes elements that will be new even to those who are related to some of the protagonists. –Beatrice La Farge, Goethe University Frankfurt im Main
This is an enchanting collection of literary portraits, full of astutely observed details and surprising insights, all woven together by a humane moral and spiritual imagination. –Sohrab Ahmari, op-ed editor, The New York Post, and author of the forthcoming The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos
Admirers eagerly await the next Stephen Schmalhofer essay, a jewel of wit, clear prose, discovery, and learning. Now admirers and new reader alike have the treat of this collection, in which Schmalhofer brings to life half-forgotten figures and writers in the best tradition of the republic of letters. -Gerald J. Russello, editor, The University Bookman
With a wealth of learning Schmalhofer takes us happily into vanished worlds often Catholic and whimsical, peopled by savants, eccentrics, and aesthetes. Pleasant and surprising. –Cardinal George Pell, Prefect Emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, author of the forthcoming book Prison Journal, Volume 1